13 Acres Protected Along Yarmouth’s Royal River (ME)

Yarmouth, Maine, January 5, 2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Friends of the Royal River and the Town of Yarmouth announced today the town’s purchase of 13 additional acres on the Royal River for permanent conservation. The land will be added to the adjacent 35-acre Royal River Estuary Preserve, which has become a popular recreation area for town residents since TPL and the Town purchased last year.

The newest acquisition includes 700 feet of additional frontage on the Royal River; the remaining 1000 feet of frontage on the pond, and nearly a 1/2 mile of additional trails. The Royal River property also provides habitat for a number of critical wildlife species, including bald eagle and osprey, and waterfowl. The Town, which plans to manage the property in its natural state with ongoing trail maintenance, acquired the property from Geoff Spear, with help from TPL, a national nonprofit conservation organization and the Friends of the Royal River, a regional land trust.

The property includes a vacant house between the river and the pond. Following the property’s acquisition, the town will remove the structure, returning the riverbank to its natural state. This is one of the first conservation projects in the state that includes removing coastal waterfront development to reclaim a portion of the natural landscape of an estuary. By removing the existing house and several associated outbuildings, the project will have a direct and positive impact on the scenic quality of the river, the environmental condition of the estuary, the health of the mud flats and the experience of those who use the trails.

A $1.6 million congressional appropriation from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) for the Royal River project was secured through the strong support and leadership of U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Representative Tom Allen (D-ME1). Of the total provided, the CELCP program awarded a $430,000 grant to the Town of Yarmouth for the protection of this 13-acre property. Overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the CELCP program makes grants to state and local governments to acquire open space in a state’s coastal zone.

Additionally, a private fundraising campaign among area residents raised over $130,000 for the project, while the Town of Yarmouth contributed $30,000 from its land acquisition fund. The Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMF) provided $250,000 in support.

“I want to thank and congratulate the Trust for Public Land, the Friends of Royal River and the Town of Yarmouth for what they have done to protect this land,” said Senator Snowe. “The acquisition of this treasured estuary property will protect both the recreational and natural resources within the town’s boundaries for generations to come. I was pleased to work to secure federal funding from the Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program to make this preservation possible. This funding has proven itself to be an investment in a lasting natural oasis for all.”

“It is critically important that we work to preserve Maine’s coastal areas, such as this property along the Royal River,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that I was able to secure federal funding from the CELCP program for the Town of Yarmouth to protect this wonderful property for future generations.”

“I am very proud that I was able to work with my colleagues to secure federal funds for this important waterfront conservation project along the Royal River,” Representative Allen said. “This acquisition will be a tremendous asset for people in Yarmouth and throughout southern Maine who value the parcel’s habitat, forests and fresh and saltwater wetlands. My thanks and congratulations to the Friends of the Royal River, the Town of Yarmouth, the Trust for Public Land and everyone who has worked so hard to make this acquisition possible.”

“The Land for Maine’s Future Board is extremely pleased to have contributed to this project that is so important to the Town of Yarmouth and all the communities on the Royal River,” said Tim Glidden, Director. “The LMF Program is looking to expand these partnerships along Maine’s coast as Maine citizens struggle with rapid development, loss of public access, and skyrocketing prices.”

“We greatly appreciate the strong support and hard work of Senators Snowe and Collins and Representative Allen in securing funding through the CELCP program to protect this amazing property on the Royal River,” said Sam Hodder, Maine Director for the Trust for Public Land. “With the pressures facing coastal communities in southern Maine, we particularly admire the vision and commitment demonstrated by the Town of Yarmouth in securing this wonderful piece of their shoreline for future generations.”

“We are so appreciative of the vision and the energy, and the funding assistance that we received from so many people and organizations,” said Yarmouth Town Manager Nat Tupper. “This project is only possible because of the work of our Congressional delegation, the Trust for Public Land, the Land for Maine’s Future Board, Friends of the Royal River, and dozens of private and corporate donors.”

The property’s protection was also strongly supported by the Friends of the Royal River, which aided tremendously in the successful fundraising effort. The Friends of the Royal River is actively involved in conserving and connecting key properties throughout the Royal River watershed, monitoring its water quality, and preserving its historic, scenic and ecological integrity along the river’s 40-mile length. The Friends of the Royal River will hold a conservation easement on the property, ensuring that it will never be subdivided or developed.

“Because of the outstanding efforts of the Trust for Public Land, Senators Snowe and Collins, Representative Allen, the Town of Yarmouth and numerous local conservationists, this prominent estuarine property will be available for wildlife and visitors for generations. We are very pleased to add this to the Friends of the Royal River’s growing portfolio of conserved lands in the region,” said Henry Nichols, Executive Director of the Friends of the Royal River.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. In Maine, TPL has protected over 87,000 acres across the state with projects ranging from city parks and pathways to coastal habitat and working farms and forests. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.

The Land for Maine’s Future Program was created in 1987 in response to concerns over the loss of critical natural areas, wildlife habitat and farmland along with traditional access to undeveloped lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. To date, the Land for Maine’s Future Program has protected almost 240,000 acres of Maine’s best recreational and natural areas. The program also seeks to protect farmlands through the purchase of development rights and public access to water for fishing, boating and commercial marine activities. Working with other state agencies and numerous local governments and charitable nonprofit groups, the Land for Maine’s Future Board adheres to a “willing seller only” policy. To learn more visit: www.state.me.us/spo/lmf